‘Once Upon a Studio’ Linked to Mysterious Disney Death

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Promo Art for Once Upon a Studio

Credit: Disney

Once Upon a Studio has brought together a whole host of Disney icons, but there’s a secret tragedy hidden behind one of Walt’s all-time favorites.

disney once upon a studio special
Credit: Disney Studios

Despite its brief runtime, Disney’s Once Upon a Studio (2023) packed quite a magical punch when it brought in hundreds of our favorite animated friends. Many of the characters on screen were even voiced by their original actors, even those who have passed away over the years.

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While most of the performances were made in the studio, many characters whose actors have passed were recreated through archival reconstruction. Using previously recorded and unused dialogue from their corresponding productions, Disney brought their characters back to life.

Once Upon a Studio Brings Back the Dead

Genie in Once Upon a Studio
Credit: Josh Gad Instagram

Using archival footage to create a new performance is nothing new; the Disney company has done it before with Walt Disney himself. However, there might be something shadowy afoot in bringing back a certain cast member.

Related: Disney Changes Classic Walt Disney Short To Avoid Controversy

The most famous name on the cast list was probably Robin Williams, as an all-new performance of the Genie was created using unused recordings from Disney’s Aladdin (1992). That said, many overlooked another name re-created through potentially the same means.

The original Disney Peter Pan
Credit: Disney

As fondly as Robin Williams is remembered, Disney also brought back to life one of their star players who was tragically thrown away by the company before his mysterious death. Some might not remember the name Bobby Driscoll, but everyone knows about Peter Pan.

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Driscoll was one of the many child stars who hugely impacted the Walt Disney Company. Along with performers like Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk, the young actor had the lead in multiple Disney projects like Song of the South (1946), Melody Time (1948), and Treasure Island (1950). However, his performance as Peter Pan in 1950 won him Disney immortality… At least for a while.

Bobby Driscoll models for Peter Pan
Credit: Disney

Despite his success with Disney and two Oscars, Driscoll had a notorious drug habit that ended his studio career and followed him for the rest of his life. The actor himself was reported saying,

“I was 17 when I first experimented with the stuff. In no time I was using whatever was available, mostly heroin because I had the money to pay for it.”

After he fell from Disney, the actor managed to land a few bit parts on TV episodes and a short film here and there. Ultimately, drugs and his departure from the Disney company led to his downfall. He practically disappeared from Hollywood before his body was discovered in an abandoned building in New York City in 1968.

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An article from Entertainment Weekly described the grim account with the following,

“No one seems to know how the then 31-year-old Driscoll spent his final days in New York City and why he ended up in an abandoned apartment where those kids found his body. Unlike the celebrity missteps that are chronicled hourly on news sites and social media today, Driscoll’s demise happened in complete and total silence.”

Once Upon a Studio Peter Pan
Credit: Disney

As seen with Robin Williams, archival footage was used to give Peter Pan a voice again. Bobby Driscoll was even given full credit in the cast list, technically making this his final film performance.

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Driscoll might not have ended his time with Disney on the best terms, but the company clearly hasn’t forgotten his work or contribution to the studio. Along with hundreds of other iconic characters, the actor was able to reprise his role as the boy who never grew up one last time for Once Upon a Studio.

Did you know about what happened to Peter Pan? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

 

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